Same sex couples will gain recognition as “family relationships” in immigration proceedings, says Janet Napolitano, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, a move that is likely to help prevent the deportation of immigrants in lesbian or gay bi-national relationships.
Strong family ties to the United States are one of the biggest factors considered by authorities when it comes to deportation cases and advocates for gay and lesbian couples have long argued that same-sex partners deserve to have the exact same rights as couples of the opposite sex. “In an effort to make clear the definition of ‘family relationships,’ I have directed ICE to disseminate written guidance to the field that the interpretation of the phrase ‘family relationships’ includes long term same-sex partners,” Napolitano says.
A joint letter to Napolitano was sent on July 31st by eight members of Congress, asking her to put an order in writing that would help to stop the deportation and inevitable separation of immigrants from same-sex partners who are already American citizens. California Congressman Michael Honda, one of those who wrote the letter, called Napolitano’s response “promising news.”
“In the wake of this important victory, we must take a step forward and continue the fight for immigration reform,” Honda says, noting that the current immigration laws were ripping apart families and forcing American citizens to be separated from those they loved. “No one should have to choose between their spouse and their country,” he stated.